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Monday in Ministry - October 13, 2014
Monday in Ministry - October 13, 2014
October 13, 2014
Dear Friends of Cayuga-Syracuse Presbytery,
Welcome to this week's edition of our e-letter, Monday in Ministry. Our goal is to highlight things going on throughout the Church: within our Presbytery, in our congregations, as well as in the Synod of the Northeast and across the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Your input is valued, and your comments are always welcomed!
In This Issue:
Bits and Pieces
From the Stated Clerk/Communicator
Around the Presbytery
Around the Synod
Around the PC(USA)
Here and There, Bits and Pieces
Just some assorted things...
Looking for ideas for group studies during Advent? The Thoughtful Christian has several studies available for order and/or download. You can find them here.
The next Stated Meeting of the Presbytery will be held on Tuesday, October 28, at the First Presbyterian Church in Auburn. The docket will be finalized tomorrow, so look on our website and in next week's Monday in Ministry for details.
What do you get when you cross Microsoft Outlook with Google mail? Apparently, it's possible to get NOTHING! It's very hard for a Communicator to communicate when he doesn't receive communications. Steve Plank has received assurances yet again that the problem of not having received many, many emails is now resolved. Similarly, Verizon was working on voicemail troubles, and ultimately wiped and reinstalled things on the Presbytery phone. That, combined with a change in the phone's password, should resolve voicemail hassles as well. One can only hope! So if you've tried to call and/or email Steve and haven't gotten a response, please try again. Promises have been received that things really, really are resolved. (Again, one can only hope.)
From the Stated Clerk/Communicator
Columbus Day used to be something I looked forward to as a child. After all, it meant one thing: no school! Later, it meant reading and reflecting on the tremendously risky undertaking of Christopher Columbus and the men who joined him on those three, now-famous ships: the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa María. Still later it meant reflecting on the impact - mostly negative - that Columbus' so-called "discovery" meant, not the least of which was the impact of Old World diseases on New World inhabitants who had no natural immunity to those diseases, with predictably disastrous results.
Of course, Columbus & Co. were not the first Europeans to arrive on this continent. Evidence points to Norse sailors who, traveling west from Greenland, arrived in Newfoundland almost five centuries before Columbus. And of course this hemisphere wasn't "discovered;" it had been here, and been inhabited, for millennia. So, how should we observe this day? Well, what might one call a boatload of Hispanics who arrive on our shores with no papers? The contemporary term is "illegal immigrant."
I don't underestimate the challenge of immigration in our day. We all are keenly aware of the limited resources of our assistance programs, our educational system, and our housing availability. Yet, with the exception of our Onondaga neighbors, who are one of the original five constituent nations of the Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) Confederacy, all of us were immigrants to this country, many of us brought here illegally as slaves or indentured servants.
There are no easy answers to how to wrestle with this challenge. However, we must respond, both as citizens of this country and as Christian people, and we must respond with compassion. After all, Emma Lazarus, in her poem, "The New Colossus" that is engraved in the Statue of Liberty, calls that landmark the "Mother of Exiles." And the closing words of the poem still clamor to be heard and realized:
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
And then there are these pesky two verses in Leviticus 19:33-34:
"When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God."
These two verses go along with some 60 or so other citations in the Bible about how we should treat immigrants and those who are societal outcasts.
So what do we do about immigration? Our political leaders must decide that. We don't need to deal with "immigration," as if it were some abstract, sociological subject for study. Our task is to deal with people, some of whom happen to be immigrants. And we interact with them as we are called to interact with all of God's children: "And you shall love your neighbor as you love yourself." And lest we defensively demand to know just how one must define "neighbor," remember that Jesus was asked that very question... and he answered it persuasively.
Blessings and peace, from this immigrant,
Around the Presbytery
CROP Walks continuing
As many of our congregations collect the pledges made to the people in their CROP Walks, others are just gearing up. All of this is to help meet the overall goal of Church World Services: "to end hunger in the U.S. and around the world." You might want to read this article from The Thoughtful Christian about how the ways in which we eat can make a difference. It is entitled, "You Are What You Eat: 5 Ways to Change the Food System." This thoughtful article can be found here.
Recommendations coming for 2015 terms of call
The Committee on Ministry will be recommending that the Presbytery approve the following minimum terms of call for 2015:
Minimum effective salary from current to 2015:
Cash - $35,486 $36,089
Manse value - $10,646 $10,827
Effective salary - $46,132 $46,916 (+1.7% from 2014)
For CRE's - 75% of Eff. Salary $35,187
For Certified CE's - 85% $39,879
Continuing education: 2 weeks + $900
Vacation: 4 weeks
Travel reimbursement at current IRS rate (currently at .56/mile)
The Committee also will be strongly recommending that churches absorb the increase in medical dues for 2015 that will be affecting some pastors.
Several of our churches will be celebrating Reformation Sunday on October 26. Each year the Presbyterian Historical Society publishes a bulletin insert that highlights some aspect of Reformation history. This year's insert focuses on the conflict between John Knox and Mary, Queen of Scots. (Knox prevailed, by the way.) If you'd like to read this, or if you'd like to print the insert in your church bulletins, you may download it here.
The Haiti Educational Mission Project, one of our Presbytery's Mission and Ministry Teams, just sponsored a trip to Haiti. Five individuals traveled there last week, spending a great deal of time helping and serving many people, and interacting with the Presbyterian Church's mission liaison to the nation. More information will be forthcoming soon. Stay tuned.
Earth Care Luncheon and Program
What do you get when the chicken crossed the Bible? Come explore what "remembering Christ" can taste like when our Christian faith gets served
up on the dinner plate. Farmer, restaurateur and seminarian, Katrina Hebb,
will be at Park Central Presbyterian Church on Sunday, Nov. 16, discussing how and why the things we eat matter to our life as Christians. The luncheon and program will begin at 11:30 at the church.
Around the Synod of the Northeast
The Synod Assembly of the Synod of the Northeast will be held on October 25-26 at Stony Point Conference Center. The complete docket, along with all of the papers and reports for the Assembly, are located here on the Synod's website. Charlie Smith and Earl Arnold, along with Steve Plank, all will be attending this meeting. Please remember the Synod Assembly in your prayers.
Around the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Presbyterian Delegation visits Iraq
(Text below is from a PCUSA press release)
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) delegation to the Middle East, led by General Assembly Moderator Heath Rada, has turned its attention to Iraq, the second stop on the delegation's three-week visit. The group spent three days meeting with church leaders, Kurdistan officials, and displaced families. The Middle East visit was planned in response to Overture 11-02 passed at the 221st General Assembly (2014). It directs attention to the church "that is suffering due to sectarian violence and persecution" in the Middle East. It also calls on the PC(USA) to be a catalyst in calling all Christians to unite in support and prayer for Christians that are suffering.
After a time of prayer and reflection with the Christian leaders in Iraq, Rada pledged to spread the word about the crisis to congregations in the United States. As Rada and the team began the next leg of their visit, he said he was reminded once again why he was there.
"I was listening to a little girl no more than four years old singing a song, and it touched my heart," Rada said. "She sang, 'I love my family, and no one can take my faith from me.' That speaks volumes."
To read the entire article about this trip, go to http://www.pcusa.org/news/2014/10/13/winter-coming/
The Rev. Steven W. Plank, Stated Clerk/Communicator
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"I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing." John 15:5
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